Scanty rainfall, mainly in the sugarcane-growing districts of Maharashtra, will lead to a drastic fall in sugar production in 2012-13. According to estimates of the sugar commissionerate, production is expected to be 7.5-7.6 million tonnes (mt), compared to 8.99 mt in 2011-12, a drop of 15 per cent.
Sugarcane availability for crushing will also drop to 65 mt compared to last year’s 77.1 mt. The average recovery is expected to fall to 11.50 per cent compared to 11.63 per cent in 2011-12.
The commissionerate and Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories in Maharashtra, a representative body of 170 factories, said production could dip further if the situation worsens. Sugar Commissioner Vijaykumar Singhal, who had convened a meeting of members of 120 cooperatives on July 25, said, “The situation is grim. A portion of sugarcane production has either got damaged due to lack of rainfall or used as fodder. Also, sowing has come down to 925,000 hectare, compared to last year’s 102,000 hectare.”
He said if the situation worsens, it would be difficult for factories to go for crushing this year and for some factory owners to bear the increased conversion cost. Further, low rainfall would also impact the per-hectare yield.
Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil, chairman of the Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories in Maharashtra, hoped rainfall in the coming months could improve the situation. "So far, one mt of sugar has been exported from Maharashtra. An additional 200,000 tonnes will be exported in the months to come.”
Indian Sugar Mills Association (Isma), an apex body of private sugar mills, admits there will be a seven-eight per cent fall in Maharashtra’s sugar production.
Abhinash Verma, director general, Isma said, “We have projected an all-India sugar production of 25 mt against 26 mt in 2011-12. Sugar production is expected to be down in Maharashtra and Karnataka. According to our projections, Maharashtra’s production will fall to 7.6 mt, while that of Karnataka will reduce to 3.4 mt against 3.8 mt in 2011-12. However, the reduction in sugar production in Maharashtra and Karnataka will be partially compensated by improved production in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.”